Following his shock exploits into American racing in 2017 - contesting the Indianapolis 500 instead of the Monaco Grand Prix - Alonso’s goal has been crystal clear. He is determined to become just the second driver after Graham Hill to successfully complete the unofficial ‘triple crown of motorsport’ (victories in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Indy 500 and Monaco Grand Prix).

While Honda engine trouble - a recurrent theme of the last three years - blighted Alonso’s quest to win the Indy 500 at the first attempt last year, that failed to deter him from going back for another bite of the triple crown in 2018, although on this occasion he won’t be racing on the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval.

For this year (at least) Alonso is focusing on another prize, the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Arguably, this could be an *easier* feat to achieve on debut compared to his ventures at the Indy 500, with Toyota the sole-remaining manufacturer squad in the leading LMP1 class following the withdrawal of German giants Porsche and Audi.

But this competition-loving, adrenaline-junkie isn’t stopping there in his aim of being recognised as a ‘complete racing driver’. On top of his maiden Le Mans entry, Alonso will contest a further four World Endurance Championship outings with Toyota, which he will dovetail alongside his McLaren commitments in F1’s 21-race calendar.

"I've never been shy about my aim of winning motorsport's 'triple crown’. We tried for Indy last year, came close, but just missed out," Alonso said following the announcement of his Le Mans Toyota deal.

"This year I have the chance thanks to McLaren to race for the win at Le Mans. It is a big challenge - much can go wrong - but I am ready, prepared and looking forward to the fight.”

Alonso has been backed all the way in his quest by McLaren, with executive director Zak Brown confident the Spaniard’s busy schedule will not have a negative impact on his F1 commitments.

"It’s no secret that Fernando has wanted to contest the Le Mans 24 Hours,” Brown said. “And I think everybody within our organisation appreciates that a motivated, hungry and happy world-class driver such as Fernando is a formidable asset for any team in F1.

“Last year, we came to the joint decision to go racing with Fernando at the Indy 500 rather than at the Monaco Grand Prix. But we’ve always said that we would consider each opportunity on a case-by-case basis, and we both know that, in 2018, our core priority is success in F1.

“Equally important is the confidence that nothing detracts from our number one goal of F1. After proper evaluation, we are satisfied that this campaign does not do that, and that McLaren’s best interests prevail.”

Alonso began his preparations for 2018 by competing in January's Rolex 24 at Daytona with Brown’s United Autosports run outfit. In total, he will contest 27 events throughout the campaign, including five consecutive race weekends between the Canadian Grand Prix in June and the British Grand Prix in July.

If Alonso is looking for a word of advice for tackling such an intensive race calendar he can take a quick trip down the F1 paddock to Toro Rosso. Having contested eight straight race weekends towards the end of 2018 as he dovetailed his new F1 gig at the Italian squad alongside his Porsche WEC commitments, Brendon Hartley is a man who knows first-hand the effects joint-programmes can have on a driver.

“I didn’t realise until after the last race last year how tired I was. I was running on adrenaline and Red Bull and just getting through it,” he commented during 2018 F1 pre-season testing.

"When I look back I feel a different man now in terms of just feeling fit, fresh and healthy and ready to go. After eight races in a row last year, across different continents and different cars I was struggling.”

Alonso’s 2018 calendar (excluding ISMA, F1 and WEC test dates) in full:

              1.           January 27-28 - Daytona 24 Hours (ISMA) Completed

              2.           March 25 - Australian Grand Prix (F1)

              3.           April 8 - Bahrain Grand Prix (F1)

              4.           April 15 - Chinese Grand Prix (F1)

              5.           April 29 - Azerbaijan Grand Prix (F1)

              6.           May 4 - Six Hours of Spa Francorchamps (WEC)

              7.           May 13 - Spanish Grand Prix (F1)

              8.           May 27 - Monaco Grand Prix (F1)

              9.           June 10 - Canadian Grand Prix (F1)

              10.         June 16-17 - 24 Hours of Le Mans (WEC)

              11.         June 24 - French Grand Prix (F1)

              12.         July 1 - Austrian Grand Prix (F1)

              13.         July 8 - British Grand Prix (F1)

              14.         July 22 - German Grand Prix (F1)

              15.         July 29 - Hungarian Grand Prix (F1)

              16.         August 19 - Six Hours of Silverstone (WEC)

              17.         August 26 - Belgian Grand Prix (F1)

              18.         September 2 - Italian Grand Prix (F1)

              19.         September 16 - Singapore Grand Prix (F1)

              20.         September 30 - Russian Grand Prix (F1)

              21.         October 7 - Japanese Grand Prix (F1)

              22.         October 14 - Six Hours of Fuji (WEC)

              23.         October 21 - United States Grand Prix (F1)

              24.         October 28 - Mexican Grand Prix (F1)

              25.         November 11 - Brazilian Grand Prix (F1)

              26.         November 18 - Six Hours of Shanghai (WEC)

              27.         November 25 - Abu Dhabi Grand Prix (F1)

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